Monday, June 20, 2005

Operation Kevlar Turban™: Electile Dysfunction

It had to happen, the serendipitous combination of two of our popular series from back in February. The Iranian "Rock The Vote" campaign was a success -- except for the tragic fact that the phrase roughly translates to Farsi as "Stone The Un-Islamic Adulteress Whore Pig-Dog Infidel". You can see where that might be a problem.

Let's see where we might find parallels to, say, the operative dynamics of our own election from not so long ago.

The hard-line, working-class mayor of Tehran will face former president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a millionaire cleric, in a runoff election for Iran's presidency next week, according to first-round results announced Saturday.
If Ahmadinejad's second-place finish holds, the runoff set for Friday sizes up as a contest between candidates who say that Iran would become a stronger nation by turning outward, as represented by Rafsanjani, and those who see its success as rooted in the religious zeal that served as the foundation for this theocracy, as advocated by Ahmadinejad.
In his $5 million campaign, Rafsanjani vowed to bring an insider's heft to the reformist program of the outgoing president, Mohammad Khatami, to open Iran's cloistered economy to foreign investment and to promote "detente" with the United States, which severed ties with Iran after Islamic radicals took over the U.S. Embassy in 1979. Rafsanjani is "probably the biggest heavyweight figure in the country, whether he wins the presidency or not," said Mohammad Attrianfar, a newspaper publisher who supported him.

Ahmadinejad campaigned as a paragon of modest loyalty to the ideals of the theocracy. His career includes a stint as an instructor for the basij , a militia long feared for its strict enforcement of Islamic social codes and zealous attacks on student demonstrators protesting the closing of newspapers and jailing of professors.

Ahmadinejad is also well-known for his folksy malaprops which belie his upper-crust edumacation, as well as his publicly-professed love for clearing brush on his arid dirt farm out in the countryside.

Ahmadinejad has often repeated the phrase that Iranians "love freedom", except of course for women, who should not be driving cars or showing ankle, especially when Aunt Flo is visiting.

Meanwhile Rafsanjani, who has been consistently derided by his opponent as a "Tehran insider", has also had to contend with a shadowy 527 group called "Swift Boat Jihadis For Truth", which insinuate rather overtly that maybe Rafsanjani's revolutionary zeal is a contrivance, and maybe his claim of being halfway up the Euphrates during Ramadan 1985 might not quite be cartographically jake.

Also his wife, a wealthy hummus heiress, is a mouthy bitch.

"It's one thing for Tehranis to have an affinity for him, especially south Tehran," a working-class area, said Karim Sadjadpour, resident analyst for International Crisis Group, a Brussels research group. "But in Isfahan? Shiraz? Yazd? He was close to second even before the Tehran votes were counted."

Well, that settles it. If they like you in the heartland area of Yazd, you must be the gen-yoo-wine populist deal. Yazdians can see right through the patrician artifice of a career politician like Rafsanjani, with their working-class authenticity. They just know when a Tehran insider is trying to put one over on them, y'know?

There were indications that hard-liners chose to mobilize for Ahmadinejad to avoid splintering the vote. Three days before the election, Khamenei's representative to the Revolutionary Guard urged loyalists to vote for the candidate with the least pretentious campaign.

"They have mobilized their forces to vote for him," said Farzaneh Firozi, 38, after casting her ballot, for Moin, in Tehran. "Everyone at the polling station was talking about it. All the women with me, all the ones in chadors, were all voting for Ahmadinejad."

And all the women that weren't wearing chadors got the living shit beat out of them.

The election night drama was fueled by a dispute between the hard-line Guardian Council, one of three clerical bodies that oversee the elected government, and the Interior Ministry, an arm of the elected reformist government. The council's operatives monitor the voting, but the process is officially conducted by the Interior Ministry.

Funny story about that. Seems that several members of the Guardian Council were calling likely Rafsanjani supporters and telling them that the precinct locations had been moved, the voting date had been changed, they weren't really registered, etc. Fortunately representatives from the Interior Ministry managed to straighten some of it out, but there were still a shortage of voting machines, causing long lines in Yazd, as well as Ohio.

The stakes grew even higher this week after President Bush issued a statement on the eve of the vote saying that Iran's electoral process "ignores the basic requirements of democracy."

Why, did Diebold dump their fucked-up touch-screen machines on them, too? "I voted for Rafsanjani, and stupid machine says 'Ahmadinejad'!"

Well, we'll see what the exit polls have to say on the night of the runoff, and then just make it line up with the guy we want. Should be fun. You like the crazy wingnut, or the moderate wingnut with a shitload of money?


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